Home > Blog > Skin and Body
How Swallowing Difficulties Impact Older Adults
Sometimes, as the body ages, certain problems follow suit. One of these areas of concern is difficulty swallowing drinks and food. This is otherwise known as dysphagia and is a serious condition that requires monitoring, management, and motivation to move forward. This guide covers how swallowing difficulties may affect older adults, and the ways this can be managed.
Sometimes, dysphagia becomes so painful that the thought of eating a decent meal is just too off putting. That is when the risk of malnutrition seeps in. Malnutrition is when the body is not receiving anywhere enough of what it needs to sustain itself. It occurs when people don’t eat, or eat the wrong things consistently. For instance, a diet without essential iron or fiber can lead to certain types of malnutrition.
Dehydration happens when a body doesn’t drink enough. Chronic dehydration often leads to problems with the kidneys, and it causes general weakness and exhaustion. It is a dangerous thing, especially in older adults who are more susceptible to potential complications. Yet, if drinking becomes painful then seniors may be inclined to just not do it. The risk increases with conditions such as dementia, a condition that is often tied to dysphagia. The episodes of confusion and forgetfulness exacerbate the problem.
Dangerous Weight Loss
If malnutrition and dehydration are allowed to fester, there is an additional complication to consider. Dangerous weight loss is when the body is too underweight to function. It leads to muscle weakness, brittle bones, and general exhaustion. This is where the food and drink thickener SimplyThick comes in handy. These products thicken food and drink to make the swallowing process easier by slowing it down. It makes patients take their time over eating and enables a more comfortable experience. This, therefore, encourages seniors to get back into eating and regain a healthy weight. Elderly patients can’t run the risk of becoming overweight because they are more vulnerable to infection and general disease, or muscle deterioration. All these things are made worse when the body is not at a sufficient weight and strength.
Aspiration pneumonia is a specific medical risk that happens with some dysphagia patients and is especially prevalent in the elderly generations. It occurs when food or drink makes its way into the lungs and can cause choking, constricted breathing, and even death if not treated fairly quickly. It is tied to dysphagia because food often gets stuck on its path down the body, hence the sensation reported as a common symptom. When this is going on, the risk of food particles or even drops of liquid breaking free and entering the lungs is increased. The longer dysphagia goes on, the more likely this is to occur. If you notice any of the symptoms of aspiration, get help as soon as possible.
Swallowing difficulties, otherwise known as dysphagia, can affect anyone at any age but they are especially dangerous when left unchecked in older adults. It can lead to a range of complications from worrying weight loss to aspiration so the condition requires input and successful management.